Greetings,

The pandemic and lockdowns, and the resulting economic hardships, have had a lot of negative consequences for conservation, not the least of which is a marked increase in bushmeat poaching and wildlife crime. While we still fight everyday to stop these practices, we realize that we need to also highlight the good that is going on in the world. So inspired by the internet phenomenon created by network television’s The Office’s John Krasinski’s “Some Good News”, we will keep highlighting positive conservation stories. Below you will find an update from our post-doctoral researcher in Uganda, as well as our announcement that we are now accepting project proposals as part of our Conservation Grant Program for 2021. Even in the hardest times conservation work must go on, and we are proud to be able to offer funding support in 2021.

Positive Stories from the Ugandan Bush

Around 18 months ago, I was delighted to receive the International Elephant Foundation’s M. Philip Kahl Post-Doctoral Fellowship to conduct vital research on elephants in Murchison Falls National park in Uganda. This is an exciting collaboration between IEF, the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Uganda Conservation Foundation. Elephants are decimating crops that people living around Murchison rely upon for their livelihoods. But through our research to understand elephant movement patterns, we can develop solutions that will benefit both wildlife and local people. More information on the project can be found here: www.elephantconservation.org/conservation/m-philip-kahl/

Sadly, as in many other countries, the global lockdown measures to try and curb the spread of COVID-19 have placed some of our activities on hold. International travel has been suspended, there is a night-time curfew and only recently have citizens been permitted to use private and public transport. Consequently, we had to temporarily suspend our elephant surveys, collaring operations and interviews with local communities. More generally, the tourism sector in Uganda has collapsed, which is likely to have significant economic and conservation ramifications for the country. Wildlife tourism financially supports the management of protected areas and local communities. With the collapse of this industry, poaching and other illegal park activities may increase if people lose their jobs, while others may take advantage of any reductions in anti-poaching patrols.

Yet despite these concerns, there are reasons to be positive. One of the best success stories to have emerged from this elephant project is the development of our research team. Through IEF’s wonderful support, we have provided vital work experience to a small group of people from the local area who are helping to collect data on elephants. Some members of this team were former poachers. Today, our team are learning new skills that will help them to find jobs in the future, from scientific fieldwork, workshop facilitation, computer and budgeting skills. It has been immensely satisfying on a personal level for me to see these young people develop new skills and transform their lives. Another team member told me he recently returned to his community and convinced two of his former colleagues to give up poaching. What a result! This simply would not have been possible without IEF’s support and I am very excited for the future.

Joanna Hill
Postdoctoral Researcher
Rutgers University, USA

Call For 2021 Conservation Grant Proposals

The International Elephant Foundation is pleased to announce that we will be accepting applications for Asian and African elephant conservation initiatives for funding in 2021. Emergency actions and projects that directly address problems exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis will be given special consideration. A limited number of grants will be available and the average grant size awarded will be approximately $10,000.

Application deadline is September 7, 2020.